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Reading Circle: Cercle littéraire 2018-2019

The Reading Circle is flourishing under the direction of Brian John.   The Circle chose seven books.  Their summer project was Le Père Goriot by Balzac (1836). The novel describes Goriot’s infinite selfless love for his daughters, whose rapaciousness leads to his death. He lives in a lodging-house with the young student Rastignac and a motley crew of characters. They loved its dissection of Paris society in 1819, exposing the selfishness and social climbing with which Balzac was familiar. Petit Pays (2016), by novelist and rapper Gaël Faye, is about the 1990s civil war in Burundi and the pain of exile. Faye, whose mother is Rwandan and father is French, left Burundi when he was 13, later obtained his master’s in finance and worked in an investment bank in London. In December, they read Vol de nuit (1931) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. A short, page-turning book about the pioneers of French aviation in the 1920s, it is based on Saint-Exupéry’s own experiences as a pilot for the airline that inaugurated airmail services from South America to France. As well as being a gripping adventure story, it also sets out the beginnings of Saint-Exupéry’s personal philosophy. In January, they discussed a biography of Marie Curie by Janine Trotereau.  Her early life in Poland is described. She goes to Paris to study mathematics, physics and chemistry (impossible for a woman in Poland). She becomes Pierre Curie’s co-researcher. They marry and are inseparable. After his early death (road accident), she becomes the first woman to win two Nobel Prizes (Physics and Chemistry). In March, they read Au Piano (2003) by Jean Echenoz. It starts in Paris, but after a surprising development on page 86 becomes a strange parable about purgatory, resurrection and frustrated love. In April, they discussed Proust’s Un amour de Swann (1913). Opinions were sharply divided. The lengthy descriptions of Swann’s obsessional love for Odette de Crécy were loved by some, while leaving others cold (or bored). Their last book, discussed in June, was Les Petits Enfants du Siècle (1961) by Christiane Rochefort. Josyane lives in an HLM in Bagnolet. Life is hard. Because of the falling birth rate, the French government gives a bonus to mothers, which they will spend on a washing machine, fridge, car or TV. Can there be a happy ending?  Members of the Cercle found this year’s books particularly varied and interesting.  If you would like to join the Cercle littéraire, please contact Brian John at pauline@troo.co.uk

This month lecture

17th September  2020    

Cedric Cabanne                        Lyon Ville unique

Une des grandes villes de France, Lyon est souvent négligée par le visiteur de passage.  Lyon est depuis 1998 classée au Patrimoine Mondial de l’UNESCO. Par esprit conservateur et par respect du passé, la ville a grandi sans jamais trop détruire les traces de l’époque précédente.  Lyon n’est pas un musée mais une ville vibrante d’animation et de renouveau à commencer par les rives de ses fleuves réhabilités depuis quelques années et de son nouveau quartier, celui de la Confluence.  Lyon est une ville à découvrir et à ne plus négliger.


Our Conférences programme has had to be postponed since the beginning of March. but we have drafted a new programme for 2020-2021. Watch this space or our Facebook page for any change we might make.

DRAFT Amitiés Programme 2020 – 2021

17th September       Cedric Cabanne                     Lyon Ville unique

15th October            Constance Bantman             La Parité

12th November         Sam Hayes                            Moments Musicaux et chansons de Noël

10th December         Brian Stimpson                     Cézanne, l’art du portrait et du paysage

21st January             Thierry Viennois                      L’histoire de France en chansons

11th February           Catherine Greensmith          Bécassine, c’est ma cousine

18th March               Brigitte Thibaut                       L’Aquitaine à l’heure anglaise

22nd April                 John Dixon                              La France à l’affiche

20th May                  Eric Simon                               L’Alsace et La Lorraine

24th June                 AGM and

Emilie Capulet Henri Tomasi


L’Aquitaine à l’heure anglaise

On Thursday 18 March 2021, les Amitiés Françaises present an illustrated lecture on l’Aquitaine à l’heure anglaise.   The conférencière will be Brigitte Thibaud and she will as usual speak in French.  It will be a reminder of the long history of the English love and involvement in that very attractive part of France, Dordogneshire as it is often called.

Le traité de Versailles

The men who signed the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919

Eric Simon will discuss how the five victorious states prepared and signed the treaty. In the photo above, Clemenceau is easily recognized with his white moustache. To give you a headstart to the talk on 14 November presented by les Amitiés Françaises at the Baptist Church Hall in Godalming, listen to the radio broadcast by France Inter 2000 ans d’histoire. It is very informative!

Programme du Cercle Littéraire des Amitiés françaises 2019-2020

Members of les Amitiés Françaises are warmly invited to join le cercle littéraire. They can attend all the meetings or just the ones where the book to be discussed particularly appeals to them. Discussion is in French and takes place at one of the members’ house. Please get in touch with the organiser at one of the conférences, via this website or a member of the Committee.

23 septembre 2019Segou: 1: Les Murailles de TerreMaryse Condé
4 novembre 2019Diego et FriedaJMG Le Clézio
8 décembre 2019Une VieGuy de Maupassant
27 janvier 2020La Tête sur les EpaulesHenri Troyat
2 mars 2020Le Diable au CorpsRaymond Radiguet
20 avril 2020Le Liseur du 6h27JP Didierlaurent
1 juin 2020Un Barrage contre le PacifiqueMarguerite Duras

22 juin 2020: Déjeuner et réunion pour mettre en place le programme de 2020-2021

Guide Group Visit to Goodwood House: 15 July 2019

Goodwood House, West Sussex

The last event on our calendar for this year will be our celebration of the FETE NATIONALE. This year’s event will not follow our tradition of gathering together to dine in a restaurant but will be a group visit to Goodwood House for a tour of the elegant State Apartments and the Old House followed by afternoon tea in the magnificent Ballroom.

Goodwood House has been the home of the Dukes of Richmond for more than 300 years. The French connection comes very early in the family history as the 1st Duke of Richmond was the illegitimate son of Charles II and his french mistress Louise de Kerouaille. The house has a magnificent art collection which has been preserved and added to over the generations. There is also a priceless collection of Sevres porcelain.

Our visit to Goodwood will be on Monday, 15th July and will include the tour with the opportunity to view the valuable art collection and then we will enjoy afternoon tea together in the Ballroom. There will be an advantageous price of £20 for members and the price for guests will be £25. Members are welcome to bring guests if they wish. Transport will not be organised as the journey to Goodwood is just a short distance by car and we would meet there at 1. 30 p.m.

We hope that many of our members will be able to join us for this occasion. Reservations must be received by 24th May, so make sure you complete the booking form you have been sent and make your payment as detailed.

This week at the Godalming Baptist Church:

11 May 2019
Debussy and Ravel piano recital
Godalming, UK 
in collaboration with Les Amitiés Françaises and the Alliance Française
Emilie Capulet will be celebrating Debussy’s kaleidoscopic richness, colour and expressive palette in a recital of some of his most iconic works for solo piano, performing music inspired by the toccatas of the Baroque era, Impressionist paintings, Breton legends and Japanese prints. Her programme will include Pour le Piano, La Cathédrale Engloutie, Jardins sous la Pluie, La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin and L’Isle Joyeuse. Also on the programme will be works by his compatriot Maurice Ravel, including his Spanish-inspired and virtuosic ‘Alborada del Gracioso’ and his Pavane pour une Infante Défunte.

La révolution française – berceau de la France moderne

Catherine Greensmith

14 February 2019



La Forteresse de la Bastille avant 1789

Après une mise en contexte nécessaire pour “poser le décor” et quelques remarques historiques, la conférence s’éloigne des clichés sanglants habituels pour se concentrer sur les aspects positifs de la période: réformes législatives, éducatives, commerciales, organisation administrative, création de nouveaux systèmes, montée de la classe bourgeoise, libéralisation artistique… La conférence est illustrée d’une courte présentation Power Point.